by Steven Chan
For whom do we live our lives?
For some, they live for their children. Everything that they do is done for the benefit of their children. It is good that we are to love our children and to provide for their needs (I Tim 5:8; Prov 3:12; Luke 11:13). However, we are also to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of God (Eph 6:4; Col 3:21). If we fail to do the latter, we have not lived for God. Please do not misunderstand: God does not require us to guarantee that our children will always listen and obey the admonition of the Lord. God does require us to make every effort to do all that is necessary to “bring them up” in His Word and Instruction. If they decide to reject Him, they are accountable for their own actions. “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.”(Eze 18:20) “Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”(Ezek 3:19)
For others, they live for themselves. According to 1 John 2:15-16 and Mark 4:19, they “love the world or the things in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – riches, and the desires for other things”. They always ask: “what is in it for me?” If they do not perceive to receive any benefit from it, they will not be bothered to spend time, money or effort, in such matters.
In 2 Cor 5:15-16, the apostle Paul declared by inspiration:
“He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.”
The Bible says that we are to live for God: Because Jesus has died for all – as atonement for our sins so that we can receive forgiveness of our sins, be adopted into the family of God, and have the hope of heaven – we are no longer to live for ourselves.
“Live no longer for themselves” requires compliance with what Jesus said in Luke 9:23-26:
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
To “live no longer for ourselves” require that we must be prepared to “deny ourselves” – meaning that we are to be determined to “give up things that are not in accordance with God’s will”, we are to make some personal sacrifices as we seek to do His will (I Cor 10:23, 31-33), and in fact we are to give our bodies as a living sacrifice for God (Rom 12:1-2; I Cor 6:19-20)
The apostle Peter expressed the same thought in 1 Peter 4:1-3:
“arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”
In Gal 2:19b-20, the apostle Paul wrote: “that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
According to Paul, to live for God or unto God, the following needs to happen:-
- We must die to sin (Rom 6;2,11) by no longer seeking justification by the law but by faith in Jesus Christ – in His atoning sacrifice – relying on the grace of God (Rom 6:14; Heb 2:18; 4:16; I Cor 10:13) as we put away the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21; Col 3:5-9)
- We must be crucified with Christ – which happens when we were baptized into Christ (Rom 6:2-11), at which point, “our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with” (Rom 6:6)
- We must recognize that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. This means that we no longer live according to our own dictates/preferences; we are to allow Christ to be the controlling influence in our lives. Selfish living and selfish ambitions should no longer characterize our lives. We need to be motivated by what the Lord wants us to do. That was what Paul wrote in 1 Cor 10:30-33: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
- We must realize that “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God”. This means that everything we do must be premised on our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who is able to perform all that He has promised just like the faith of Abraham:
– ”He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Rom 4:20-23)
That lifestyle is reflected by how we perceive the work of God, our responsibility to our fellow brethren, how we respond to those around us, and the circumstances that we find ourselves in. Do we rely on our faith/trust/confidence in Him who is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph 3:20)?
- Finally, we must never forget the Son of God “who loved me and gave Himself for me”. In 2 Cor 5:14, Paul declared thus: “For the love of Christ compels us”. God’s love should be the motivation for all our action. It is what drove the apostles to do all that they did. The continual awareness of the love God has for us will give us assurance and keep us keeping on – regardless of the circumstances that may befall us:-
”Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”( Rom 8:37-39)
We need to keep ourselves in the love of God: Jude 20-25:
”But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”
Are we living for God and keeping ourselves in His love? Does His love motivate us to live for Him so that our hope of eternal life in heaven may be realized? 1 John 4:10-11: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”